DNA collection starts with the Waibira group

September 11, 2011

Although less glamourous than many people’s idea of what working with wild chimpanzees entails we’re all very excited that we now have our first fecal samples from the Waibira chimpanzees. These samples will allow us to run DNA analysis which will start to let us know, not only how the Waibira chimps fit into the overall scheme of chimpanzee distribution in East Africa, but also how they are related to our Sonso chimpanzees. From the start of the project we’ve seen some very familiar characteristics cropping up – Waibira’s Hamish is the spitting image of Sonso’s Simon, and the Waibira females’ little white beards are very reminiscent of Sonso chimp Rachel’s. Now we have our first sample from the adult Waibira female Arua (mother to the curious little Andrua); she bears a striking resemblance to the recently immigrated Sonso female Oakland – could this be her daughter? sister? Questions about female immigration are notoriously hard to unravel, and while it will take time to get the results through we’re all really looking forward to starting to be able to tease apart the tangle of family relationships that weave their way through our two communities.

It's hard to pose glamourously while holding a tube of chimp feces but Joe does his best..

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